God doesn’t want me rich.

At least not yet.

Ever done the “what would I do if I won the lottery?” game?  Ask yourself what you would do if you won one of those big $100 million-plus jackpots of the Powerball(tm) or MegaMillions(tm) lotteries?

It’s actually a valuable exercise.  One of the biggest excuses we make for not following our call, one of the biggest reasons we ignore signs of a call, is financial.  We “can’t afford to do that,” whatever “that” might be, because our income is too low, because it would require too much sacrifice of other valued activities or goods, or a hundred other reasons.  All of which reduce to “I don’t have the money.”

Win a hundred million dollars or so, and most of those excuses tend to evaporate.

Oh, there are many things that even a $100 million won’t buy.  A stealth bomber, for example.  Creation of Free Luna.  Immortality.

But $100 million is about as enabling an amount of money for the “everyday necessities plus a lot left over for doing what I’ve always wanted to do” as there is.  $100 million invested at 3 percent yields $3 million a year without ever touching the $100 million nest egg of principal.  $3 million/year for the rest of your life and any heirs you might designate for afterwards.

If your dream was to motor around in a Ferrari, you could buy two new ones every year, and still have a million each year for “sundries.”  If your dream is a big house for the family, you could build a giant new house every year, and still have enough left for a month first-class in the South Pacific each year.

There’s not many jobs you couldn’t quit.

There’s an awful lot of businesses you could start for $100 million. A lot of social causes you could pursue to your heart’s desire.

Sounds like a fun game, doesn’t it?

But there’s a catch.  What if your dreams are just fantasies, built upon your exposure to the values of others, rather than the true calling of your “life’s work”?

Then, I submit, the Ferraris and the houses and the businesses and the causes are going to leave something missing.  After a bit of elation,  you’re going to find yourself back in the ranks of the “unsatisfied.”  Perhaps even back in the ranks of the “unhappy.”

Finding a way to spend $100 million isn’t hard.  Finding a way to spend $100 million in service of what you are called to do can be.

If you play the lottery game, and you can’t figure out how to spend all $100 million, there are three possible explanations.

First, you simply may lack sufficient exposure to ways of spending money with lots of extra zeroes after them.  You want to travel, but you never contemplated travelling first class.  You thought about new cars, but not about planes or chauffeured town cars?  You want a new house, but how about 5,000 square feet instead of 2,500.  Or maybe 10,000.  Or perhaps one in your home town and a summer place in, say, Cancun.  Etc. etc.

Second, you have already found your calling in life.  All you want to do is be a teacher, or a nurse, or a fireman, or a novelist, and those simply don’t require the kind of annual cash flow that $100 million could generate.  “I love my home, and my job, and my current vacations. What the heck would I do with $3 million extra every year?”

And third, you don’t know what that calling is.  You might not like your current situation.  (Ask people why they play the lottery, and dig a bit, and you’ll find a lot of people unhappy in their current job or family life or who just feel “it isn’t enough.”)  But you don’t know, not really, what you’d rather be doing.

This third situation doesn’t require you to be depressed or morose.  A lot of people without callings consider themselves happy.  At worst, they would admit to a vague sense of discontent or incompleteness.

But it’s in this third situation where the lottery “what if?” game can be most valuable.   If you think about it, the first two are going to have pretty predictable results in the case of an actual windfall in real life.   The first situation will simply lead to more consumption:  not necessarily a good thing, but a self-adjusting one.    The second situation will mean a person even more content in his or her calling, since he or she will find ways of scaling expenditure:  a lot more money to favorite charities, lobbying Congress, building a bigger business, etc.

But the third?  The third situation finds a person having to think “what do I really want to do with my life?  What *is* that thing or activity that I would *die for*?

What *does* God want me doing?  If I’m a mega-millionaire, I can’t plead the necessities of life as a way of evading my responsibilities. I can only plead Ferraris and first-class luxuries.

I can’t get by with “I can’t afford that.”  I can’t put other things first without admitting that I’m doing so.  I can’t just say, “Manãna.”

I can’t make excuses.

I can say, “I don’t know what you want me to do, Lord.”  But I can’t avoid the responsibility for figuring out what He wants now rather than later.

I can’t make excuses.

And playing the lottery game makes clear that the same is true BEFORE I win the lottery.  It’s not the lack of money that’s preventing me from pursuing God’s calling for me.  Merely my own unwillingness to enter myself on that pursuit.

If, not knowing my call, I play the lottery game, I’m not going to be able to spend most of that money, unless its on gross frivolities.  I could spend 5 of the 100 million on a Gulfstream jet, but what real justification could I, a college professor in rural Iowa 60 miles away from the nearest jet-capable airport, have for “needing” a personal jet.  What real justification could I find for wanting several multi-million dollar homes?

I can’t make excuses.

I can’t wait and avoid the question.  I have to admit that I’m not following His call and I have to refocus myself on ensuring that I do. I have to admit that there’s no time like the present.  I have to admit that anything other than striving to find and follow that call is avoiding my responsibilities.

And even if I were nott a professed Christian, I still couldn’t avoid the question.    I have to admit that I don’t know what *I* deeply want to do.

I may be enjoying myself, but I’m unaware of my core motivations.  I’m unaware of that one thing that burns in me, that one thing that, to me, is more important than anything else I might know.  I’m unaware of what I’m driven to put my wealth, today’s small wealth or tomorrow’s mega-wealth, in service of.

I can’t make excuses.

But of course I am a Christian.  If I don’t know how God wants me to follow His Great Commandment, then I need to refocus my attention and figure it out.

Because I can’t make excuses.

I admit I still would like to win the lottery.

But only to the extent that i already know my call.

Because I can’t make excuses.

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2 Responses to “The lottery game”

  1. Zombieslayer says:

    I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d be a photographer full-time of hot nude young women. And I’d hire you as my assistant. You’d do all the interviewing and decide which ones make it and which don’t. You’d also be the main masseuse. Sound good? I thought so.

    $100 million? Who cares if we make a profit? I’d invest $90 million in a combination of stocks, bonds, and savings accounts (mostly in the first 2, I’m pretty good with stocks). That would keep the money going as long as I’m alive (and not senile).

    Ferraris? Who cares? I’d keep my Saturn but will of course upgrade the sound system.

    Oh, and whenever Jessica Biel has one of those charity dates, I’d be sure you’d win. I mean, who is going to outbid a guy with $100 million?

  2. David says:

    Hi Wade!

    I’m glad to see that you’re writing again, and I’m sorry it took a month to realize it. I’m sorry too to see that you’re giving yourself a hard time. Isn’t that our mothers’ jobs? :-D Give yourself a break. :-)

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